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This chapter analyses plant fossils including phytoliths, carbonized wood, and
leaf compressions, along with microcharcoal, chrysophycean stomatocysts, sponge
spicules, and diatoms, recovered from the Estancia La Costa Member, Santa Cruz
Formation (late Early Miocene), in the Atlantic margin of Patagonia, Argentina.
The floristic composition and paleoclimatic inferences based on this fossil
plants assemblage from the late Early Miocene are presented. The fossil flora is
characterized by the presence of herbaceous components including chloridoid,
panicoid, danthonioid, pooid, and festucoid grasses. The arboreal elements
include members of the Araucariaceae, Lauraceae, Arecaceae, Nothofagaceae,
Myrtaceae, Cunoniaceae, Fabaceae (Faboideae), and
?Proteaceae. The vegetation was a mixture of open temperate semi-arid
forests and humid warm-temperate forests. The integrated analysis of multiple
sets of proxy data suggests that southeastern Patagonia, during late Early
Miocene, was characterized by a temperate to warm-temperate and semi-arid to
humid climate, where seasonal low levels of precipitation served as a limiting
factor for plant growth.
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